TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Rep. Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang filed House Bill (HB) No. 381 proposing the creation of the Chico River Basin Development Authority (CRBDA), defining its powers, functions, and responsibilities and appropriating funds for its sustainable operation.
Under Mangaoang’s bill, it is the declared policy of the State to promote the integrated management and development of resources in the country’s river basins, within the context of a river basin approach to optimize economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of the environmental system and to ensure a fair sharing of the national patrimony between highland and lowland people.
The Kalinga lawmaker claimed it is the purpose of the bill to establish the legal framework and mechanisms for the creation of the CRBDA; consolidate and harmonize all development initiatives within the river basin under the framework of a unified river-basin management and development approach; maximize the participation of all stakeholders in the area; establish the most effective approach to effect an active and sustainable collaboration among stakeholders; promote equitable sharing of cost and benefits from the basin’s natural resources across sectors, group of communities, across space and time and negotiate local and external investments in the area thereby increasing livelihood opportunities for the people within the basin.
Mangaoang disclosed the CRBDA shall be under the Office of the President and it shall be the primary government agency mandated to coordinate all development activities in coordination with the appropriate government agencies and peoples organizations within the basin.
The authority shall have a Board of Directors whose members shall elect among themselves a Chairperson to serve for a period of three years and the board shall be supported by a fully-staffed management office.
Mangaoang said all concerned offices, bureaus, agencies having existing programs and projects in the river basin that directly corresponds with the powers and functions shall immediately transfer such projects, including corresponding appropriations, funds, records, equipment, facilities, rights, other assets and personnel to the authority within sixty days after the effectivity of the law.
He explained the Chico River is one of the major river systems in the Cordillera Administrative Region which has a total length of more or less 200 kilometers originating from its headwaters located in the tri-boundary of Ifugao, Benguet and Mountain Province that traverses four municipalities in Mountain Province, namely, Bauko, Sabangan, Bontoc and Sadanga going to the municipalities of Tinglayan, Lubuagan, Tabuk City and Pinukpuk in Kalinga, into the municipalities of Tuao, Piat, Rizal and Sto. Nino in Cagayan with its tail end joining the mighty Cagayan River.
The river system has an estimated watershed area of 404,685 hectares and the said river system is currently irrigating over 11,000 hectares in the Tabuk City valley. Another 10,000 hectares of irrigated lands at Quezon, Isabela and the various rice terraces found in Mountain Province and in upper Kalinga.